An Interview With Author Jeb Rosebrook
Wolfpack Publishing is excited to have gotten the chance to talk with new author, Jeb Rosebrook. Jeb Rosebrook has earned his living as a professional writer since he first was a paid intern as a dramatic television writer at NBC in 1956 in New York. His career includes journalism, advertising, public relations, three published novels and over thirty years of credits in film and television. Jeb is a graduate of The Orme School of Arizona and Washington & Lee University. He and his wife of 57 years, Dorothy, live in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Wolfpack: Are your three books part of a trilogy? How did you conceive that?
Jeb Rosebrook: No. Saturday was published separately by E.P.Dutton in 1965. But Purgatory Road (Arizona 1951) and Forever More (Virginia 1954) are the first two in what my son Stuart calls “An American Trilogy.” (Stuart is Book Editor and Senior Editor for True West Magazine). They were published in 2014 and 2015.
When I began the second chapter in Purgatory Road I led with a Mojave Rattlesnake waiting to find an evening meal. The name “Charlemagne” leaped in my brain. As the story progresses, Charlemagne became a major character, right to the end.
I thought if I wrote the trilogy, Charlemagne could and would be a good thread through novels encompassing characters and history of the times.
The third Charlemagne is a work in progress.
WP: How do you feel about the 50th anniversary of Saturday?
JR: I feel very pleased I was able to accomplish it. Some years back I reached out to Dutton/Penguin and was able to secure the rights. Since the original cover art was a copyright I reached out to my college roommate at Washington & Lee, who just happened to be Mayor of Salem, Virginia. He put me in touch with the Salem Historical Society; hence that great 1950's main street cover. A terrific graphic artist, Dan Harshberger here in Arizona, did the rest to a magnificent result in my mind.
My long time friend and poet, Jim Ciletti wrote a new introduction. In my mind it provides an entire new glimpse into the book and its times (‘Negro' was still used in 1965.)
I had many positive reviews, comparing me with the potential to achieve what those such as Reynolds Price, David Grubb and others had accomplished. But until “Forever More” I did not return to Emeritus, Virginia.
I had never read “Winesburg, Ohio” until “Saturday” was published and realized the similarity.
Note: The Korean War is featured in “Saturday” as well as first two of the trilogy. I just missed the war but one close friend was in it and his time there and return home affected me greatly, and still does.
WP: Is it true you've written and sold several screenplays?
JR: The truth is really only one original. This is “Junior Bonner” the 1971 film starring Steve McQueen, Robert Preston, Ida Lupino and Ben Johnson, directed by Sam Peckinpah.
Over the years I became involved in being hired to write, while still working on my own originals. I was also involved in creating and writing and producing television series and returned to Virginia to write for my friend and mentor, Earl Hamner, on “The Waltons.”
“The Black Hole” for Disney, for which I share major writing and story credit (I was the 5th of 6 writers!) has become a classic for those who saw it when they were kids. I have been interviewed in England and Italy about the film.
I do have originals on the market now. Two are westerns, one period and the other contemporary, a re-write that has continued since actor James Coburn optioned my first original screenplay back in 1970!
WP: How is writing a book different than writing a screenplay?
JR: With “Saturday” there was the strong influence of novelists previously mentioned such as Reynolds Price and David Grubb. The old saying goes, “You Are What You Read.”
There is no doubt that when I returned to novels with the trilogy, the influence of writing for film was strong. In other words, writing scenes – in prose as a novelist but I have been told how much it seems also like watching a film. It is the way it turned out in style after so many years writing for film and television.
In so many ways I start with character.
Writing a screenplay has much to do with construction. There are really three acts. When I taught in the grad school of Creative Writing at Arizona State University and the excellent film school at Scottsdale (AZ) Community College, I was amazed how many “how to” guides there are to writing a screenplay! I read screenplays to prepare myself but I was totally self-taught. But I do feel my background as a novelist helped me very much move into writing screenplays.
WP: Are you working on anything now?
JR: I am working with my son Stuart, on completing my memoir on me on location as the original writer of “Junior Bonner” in Prescott, Arizona. It will be published by Bear Manor Media. It has much to do with Sam Peckinpah and Steve McQueen. And the producer, the late Joe Wizan. The film is also the basis of a documentary, the fourth on Peckinpah films by German film maker, Mike Siegel.
I’m also considering the third of the trilogy.
WP: What do you do to relax?
JR: I used to do a great deal of gardening and horseback riding. I have been involved with a group I helped start in 1976, originating with the Orme School and Ranch in Arizona. We grew to be out four days on rides. I took a fall off a mule nearly a decade ago and after that, my knees began to go.
So, I am about to begin an effort with the man who became my friend as he was my Physical Therapist after the mule – to return to somewhat the physical being I was. Being 82, it is long overdue!
I have an office where I go four days a week and write from eight thirty to twelve thirty.
WP: Where you do you live now and do you have any family you're close with?
JR: I live with my wife of 57 years, Dorothy, in Scottsdale, Arizona. We have now lived here since 1995, after being in Los Angeles (North Hollywood) from 1961.
Daughter Katherine Goode, 50, lives with her family in Severna Park, Maryland. She and her husband Robert, have two children, Jack, to be a senior in high school and Fallon, to be a senior at Penn State. Katherine and Robert are graduates of the University of Arizona.
Son (Jeb) Stuart, 53, lives with his wife, Julie in Iowa City, Iowa. He has a PhD in Western and Public History and is a great writer of history and has always played a significant addition to the Western Writers of America. He is Book Editor and Senior Editor at True West Magazine. Their children, Jeb Alan, 21, is a senior at Central College of Iowa and Kristina a junior at West High School. Stuart is a graduate of Wake Forest and Arizona State and Julie, Stanford and North Texas State.
Look for Purgatory Road by Jeb Rosebrook later this week!